NEW DELHI: The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, will award the highest number of PhDs in one year (221) on Saturday at its 46th convocation. A total of 1880 students will collect their undergraduate, post-graduate and PhD degrees. Reserve Bank chief, Raghuram Rajan will be the chief guest.
The number of students receiving PhD degrees is significantly larger than last year’s 178. This is consistent with the IIT-D’s stated objective of shifting focus away from producing graduates to producing good research. They hope to increase the number to 400 in the long term because, as acting director Kshitij Gupta observes, “that is the way we can provide man power to the large number of institutions coming up including the new IITs, NITs and others.” “Practically all have extreme shortage of teaching faculty and the major chunk of PhDs are from the IITs and Indian Institute of Science.”The number of undergraduate degrees being awarded has also been increasing — it’s gone up from 714 in 2014 to 770 this year. And the number of post-graduate degrees that’ll be awarded is 889.
The institute has also restructured its post-graduate curriculum after a decade – included a variety of elective courses and as dean, academics, Anurag Sharma explains, “redefined the credit to the post-graduates and included a component of self-learning.” As a part of the second reform, students will have to pick one segment of “defined syllabus” on which they’ll be tested but without any delivery.
The IIT-D’s master-plan has just been approved; they have the go-ahead for a number of infrastructure additions such as new hostels, a stadium, two major academic blocks and a science park on campus to promote startups. The pace of construction is, of course, contingent on the availability of funds. The estimated cost of the three science parks planned at its campuses at Hauz Khas, Sonepat and Jhajjar put together is about 400 crore. IIT hopes to get HRD funds for about 50% of it and will attempt to raise the rest through its own research, innovation and technology transfer branches. Currently, IIT-D has ‘units’ for about a dozen start-ups to “incubate” in but the park should provide for about a 100 more, explains Dean R&D, Suneet Tuli. Though they have a partner in Defence Research and Development Organisation, the administration hopes to have private firms set up research and development units at the park too. A new lecture hall complex is already in place.
The IIT at Jammu is being “mentored” by IIT-D and will start admitting students from July 2016. The research facility that IIT-D was developing in collaboration with Mauritius – IIT-Research Academy – is now in limbo. Once at the centre of much controversy, “at the moment there is practically no activity there,” says Gupta. However, IIT-D took on 164 “sponsored research projects” in 2014-15 with a total value of Rs.153.77 crore – over twice that of 2013-14’s Rs.68.65 crore.
NEW DELHI: The Centre will soon pick 10 higher education institutes with potential and provide them with substantial funding over the next four years so that Indian institutes can finally storm into the top 100 on global academic rankings like QS and Times like neighbours China and South Korea.
The human resource development (HRD) ministry has drawn up a list of 8-10 institutes of high academic standing that are currently among the top 500 institutes in global academic rankings and have the potential to perform much better. These 10 institutes, it is proposed, will be granted funds — ranging fromRs 100-500 crore for the next 3-4 years so that they can create world class research infrastructure and laboratories. The end target is getting Indian institutes among global top 100.
Some of the top ranking IITs besides the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore are among the institutes identified so far for the fund boost. “Based on the rankings and performance of Indian institutes from 2013, 2014 and 2015, we have identified 8-10 institutes that are among the top 500 in the rankings and are consistently improving their performance over the years.
These are likely to include IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, IIT Roorkee, IIT Guwahati and Indian Institute of Science and Bangalore. The idea is to incentivise institutes that perform well enough to compete at the global level. Institutes have sought funds around Rs 300-500 crore, the proposal is being examined to assess how much money can be granted,” a senior official from the HRD ministry told ETon condition of anonymity.
While there is not a single Indian institute among the top 100 or top 200 on international rankings but this year when IIT Delhi and IISc Bangalore finally registered their presence among top 200 on the QS rankings, neighbours China and South Korea have quite a few institutes among the top 50. Both countries apart from Singapore have invested considerably with funding and policy support to ensure a major quality upgrade in its higher education sector.
The Modi government has taken the cue and the Centre is preparing to pump in substantial funds in 10 top Indian institutes so that they can climb up the tally. The Smriti Irani-led ministry is moving the plan as a key part of its budget proposal. It is learnt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also quite keen that a concerted effort be made to ensure the same. President Pranab Mukherjee has often lamented the dismal performance of our institutes in rankings year after year. This issue in fact is also set to come up for discussion at the visitor’s conference to be held next week at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Indian institutes, incidentally do not score well on the parameters where academic reputation of the institutes is measured through a global survey.
China’s education system is robbing its young people of the chance to become unique individuals, a leading educationalist says.
Author and academic Sir Anthony Seldon says China’s strict schooling style needs to change or its youngsters will suffer, along with its economy.
Chinese schools, often criticised for rote and repetitive learning, should be more holistic, says Sir Anthony.
The comments come during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK.
In a speech at the Institute of Education on Wednesday, the president seemed to take on board some of these notions.
He said, after watching a BBC programme recreating a Chinese school in England, he had realised that “the British have learned the virtues of strict discipline” from China.
The Chinese, meanwhile, had been learning the advantages of recreation, he added.
“Chinese children do not play enough. They should play more,” Mr Xi said.
Chinese education – the facts
The school day in China’s state schools starts at 7am with various physical exercises.
Amongst other daily constitutionals, such as Tai Chi, pupils are encouraged to massage their eyes to keep them healthy and get them ready for the day.
The children have two meal breaks in the 12-hour school day and will exercise together every day – sometimes twice a day.
The teaching style is focused on note-taking and repetition, otherwise known as rote learning.
This is a great contrast to England’s more interactive teaching style, where pupils are encouraged to participate in class and make judgments for themselves.
The Chinese believe children learn faster and better by rote learning
Chinese children live under the One Child Policy and feel the weight of responsibility on their shoulders, so there is great importance placed on their educational achievements.
Good exam results are associated with social status and success and entire families can pin all their hopes on the single child.
Chinese pupils learn the same subjects as English school children in the main, but are combined with practical work experience around the school campus, as well as Chinese culture, morality and ethics.
One feature of Chinese schools that England’s teachers may welcome is that the pupils almost always are required to clean their own classrooms.
China’s schools educate an estimated 192,000,000 children – a fifth of the world’s school age children.
In a speech in Shanghai on Friday, Sir Anthony, now vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said: “China has some of the top schools in the world and is leading the way with maths and science.”
Indeed Shanghai and Hong Kong are among the top performing districts in the world, according to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development.
Sir Anthony added: “It is the ‘human’ skills that cannot be replaced by computers that Chinese schools and schools worldwide need to be giving far greater focus.
“Many schools are robbing the young of the opportunity to blossom into the unique individuals that they are because too many teachers think that solely cramming pupils’ heads full of facts is education.
“Many education systems focus on exams being the sole validators of school, but recent research suggests that jobs with a big growth in salary have been those that require a high degree of social skills,” he adds.
Sir Anthony, former master of leading private school Wellington College, is a great advocate of protecting and enhancing pupils’ well-being in order to maximise their potential to learn and express themselves confidently.
Like many private schools, Wellington College has an international school in China, where it offers a traditional English public school education.
A London MP says he will help a grammar school develop plans to expand into a neighbouring borough.
Wallington County Grammar School in Sutton, south London, has expressed an interest in opening a site in non-selective Croydon.
Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South, says he plans to write to Nicky Morgan to explore the process.
Croydon Council said it already had a clear strategy to meet rising demand for school places.
Mr Philp confirmed that he had been talking to Wallington, a boys’ school, about setting up a satellite in Croydon for some time and they had been encouraged by last week’s go-ahead for a similar plan in Kent.
The education secretary allowed Weald of Kent school in Tonbridge to open an annexe in Sevenoaks, sidestepping a ban on new grammar schools in England.
Mrs Morgan said the ban would remain and her decision would not “open the floodgates” to more selective schools, describing it as a “genuine expansion” of an existing school.
However, councillors in both Berkshire and Bedfordshire have, in the past week, begun exploring the possibilities of creating new grammar schools.
Mr Philp said he was keen to help Wallington investigate the feasibility of a selective annexe in Croydon.
“It will give children from all backgrounds the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
Currently, Labour-controlled Croydon operates a comprehensive education system, but Bromley to the east and Sutton to the west both run selective secondary schools.
Wallington’s headmaster, Jonathan Wilden, confirmed the school would be interested in opening a Croydon annexe, should the opportunity arise.
Plans for the school to open a separate, non-selective free school in the borough in 2018 have already been given the go-ahead.
Croydon had already identified potential sites for new schools to meet rising pupil numbers and one of these could be earmarked for a grammar school, Mr Wilden suggested.
However, he said the school currently had no plans to submit a formal application for an annexe.
A spokesman for Croydon Council said the borough currently had no plans for grammar schools and would meet increased demand for school places by expanding existing schools and opening new comprehensives.
“The Department for Education has offered Wallington County the possibility of opening a secondary-age free school in 2018 with a comprehensive intake.
“The council has had no formal approach regarding a grammar school and there are no plans to develop grammar schools or grammar school extensions in Croydon,” said the spokesman.
Last week, Comprehensive Future, which campaigns for equality of opportunity in education, said the group was taking advice on the feasibility of a judicial review of the Weald of Kent decision in the High Court.
Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said: “We are now seeing moves in many selective areas to open new grammar schools.
“Nicky Morgan will rue the day she allowed the new grammar school in Kent.”
Stressed teachers are being reduced to tears and not being helped with their workload, a teachers’ leader says.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, says she has been told of one teacher crying every night at home and another being ordered not to burst into tears in the staffroom.
She added that teachers are often expected to work extra hours at home.
And she called on head teachers to back their staff, while ministers have pledged to reduce unnecessary workload.
Dr Bousted, writing in the Times Educational Supplement, said how she was “silenced” by a young man who told her how worried he was about his primary school teacher partner.
“Increasingly, when he came home from work, he found her crying on the kitchen floor,” Dr Bousted said.
She told how she had heard from another teacher who had been given a performance objective that she must not cry in the staffroom.
“She did not know what to be more mortified about – that she had cried in the staffroom, or that her line manager could propose such an objective without any thought about what might cause her to cry in the first place,” Dr Bousted said.
She added: “Tales like these are told to me just too often. It seems that teacher stress is increasingly being regarded as par for the course and part of the job.
“A newly qualified teacher, asking for help to deal with an impossible workload which took up every evening until 11pm and all of the weekend, was told by her line manager ‘that’s the way it is in teaching’.
“Teachers, as professionals, expect to work hard but should not be expected to devote every minute of their lives to their work. Teachers need time to relax, to pursue hobbies, to talk to their families and friends. They need time to be human.”
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said there was no doubt the whole teaching profession, from the newly qualified teacher to the senior leader, was under considerable pressure.
“It’s essential that we all pay attention to the well-being of staff. That’s a shared responsibility between colleagues of the same level, middle leaders, senior leaders and governors, who ultimately carry the duty of care.
“Clearly, if a member of staff is in tears in the staff room, it would be incumbent on the school, someone in the school, to look at what the problem was and discuss it with them, so they can give them the appropriate support they need.”
Dr Bousted also pointed out that the education system cannot afford to be so “profligate with its teachers”.
“At the moment England is in a perfect storm of rising pupil numbers, falling teacher recruitment and poor teacher retention.
“Official figures show that the country will need nearly 160,000 additional teachers over the next three years to cope with a projected 582,000 rise in primary and secondary age pupils by 2020.
“If our education system is to meet this immense challenge, it needs to value its teachers as its most precious resource and treat them accordingly,” she added.
A Department for Education spokesman said teaching remained a hugely popular profession, with the highest numbers of people joining since 2008.
“But we want to ensure teachers can focus on what they do best – teaching and inspiring young people – not needless bureaucracy and paperwork.
“That’s why are driving forward a package of measures including looking at how we can reduce teacher workload by tackling three of their biggest concerns – marking, planning and data management.
“It is vital schools have systems in place to help limit stress for staff, and provide appropriate support if needed.”
Spending per pupil in schools in England is likely to fall by 8% in real terms over the next five years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warns.
It argues that school funding levels will feel quite different in the next five years from the previous five.
Schools are set to face real-terms reductions in spending per pupil for first time since the 1990s, it adds.
The report, however, says schools have been protected in recent years compared with other government departments.
Although there will be similar growth in nominal spending to that in the last Parliament, resources will shrink because of rising costs and increasing pupil numbers, it says.
Key cost increases include:
the average public-sector pay settlement of 1% per year
a rise in National Insurance contributions from April 2016
an increase in employer pension contributions
“Taking these together with pressures on other costs, we forecast that school spending per pupil is likely to fall by around 8% in real terms [based on a school-specific measure of inflation] between 2014-15 and 2019-20,” the report says.
But a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “”We are protecting the schools budget, which will rise as pupil numbers increase and have made significant progress towards fairer funding for schools.
“This government is committed to making sure schools are funded fairly so all pupils have access to a good education – a key part of our core mission to raise standards across the country and make sure every child reaches their full potential.”
The National Union of Teacher said many schools and colleges were already struggling.
Deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “At a time when we face major problems with teacher supply, IFS notes that the government’s pay cap of 1% could make recruitment and retention more difficult.
“With pupil numbers rocketing, we need to recruit more teachers just to stand still and we need to invest in capital funding to provide the new places needed.”
Place a 30cm ruler on top of one finger from each hand. What happens when you bring your fingers together?
Can archaeology prove or disprove the Bible?
Two tricky questions of the sort asked at interviews for Oxford University places,which are being published by the university ahead of the application deadline for 2016 entry on Wednesday.
The aim is to dispel false rumours, explained Oxford’s education and outreach director, Samina Khan.
‘An academic conversation’
“We know there are still lots of myths about the Oxford interview, so we put as much information as possible out there to allow students to see the reality of the process,” said Dr Khan.
“Tutors simply want to see how students think and respond to new ideas.
“We are not interested in catching students out.”
With this in mind, the university asked admissions tutors in a range of subjects for sample questions and tips on answering.
“Interviews are not about reciting what you already know,” said Dr Khan.
She reassured candidates that the interview was a chance to show how they can apply their thinking to new problems in ways that will both challenge them and allow them to shine.
She added: “They are an academic conversation in a subject area between tutors and candidate, similar to the undergraduate tutorials which current Oxford students attend every week.
“It is often best to start responding by making very obvious observations and build up discussion from there, rather than assuming that there is a hidden meaning or a highly complicated answer you have to jump to immediately,” she advised.
So what of the ruler question, aimed at prospective engineering students?
Steve Collins of University College Oxford says he would never ask it as an opening question – which would allow candidates to get comfortable by firstly discussing something familiar.
“This question would come later in the interview, when we present candidates with an unfamiliar scenario,” he explained.
Engineering: Place a 30cm ruler on top of one finger from each hand. What happens when you bring your fingers together?
“Almost everyone in this example will expect the ruler to topple off the side where the finger is closest to the centre of the ruler, because they expect this finger to reach the centre of the ruler first. They then complete the “experiment” and find both fingers reach the centre of the ruler at the same time and the ruler remains balanced on two fingers.
“We like to see how candidates react to what is usually an unexpected result and then encourage them to repeat the experiment slowly. With prompting to consider moments and friction, the candidate will come to the conclusion there is a larger force on the finger that is closest to the centre of the ruler.
“This means that there is more friction between the ruler and this finger and therefore the ruler slides over the finger furthest from the centre first. This argument will apply until the fingers are the same distance from the centre.
“The candidate should then be able to explain why both fingers reach the centre of the rule at the same time as observed.
“We might even discuss the fact that the coefficient of static friction is higher than the coefficient of dynamic friction. Therefore the “moving” finger gets closer to the centre than the static finger before the finger starts to move over the other finger.”
Prof Steve Collins, engineering tutor, University College
Oriental studies: Can archaeology prove or disprove the Bible?
“I would be looking for an answer that showed the candidate could appreciate the Bible was a collection of documents written and transmitted over several centuries, and containing important traditions that have a bearing on history, but that academic study of the Bible means it has to be examined carefully to see when and where these traditions had come from and for what purpose they had been written,
“They should recognise archaeology relies on non-literary sources preserved from ancient periods such as the remains of buildings and tools.
“These can often be dated by scientific means (and so appear more objective than literature), but we still frequently need additional information such as inscriptions or evidence from other similar sites in order to make sense of the ancient remains.
“In the end I would hope the candidate would work towards a realisation of the very different nature of these types of evidence, which sometimes gives a complementary picture, while in others it may be contradictory.
“Both require very careful interpretation, and just arguing that “The Bible says” or that “Archaeology proves” is much too simplistic.”
Dr Alison Salvesen, oriental studies tutor, Mansfield College
Economics and management: Do Bankers deserve their high pay or should government limit it?
“A simple answer might be that since banks are generally private firms and workers are free to work where they wish, then the pay they receive is just the outcome of a competitive labour market.
“In this story, bankers earn a lot because they are very skilled and have rare talents. It is hard to see a reason for government intervention in this case, though on equity grounds one may want to have a progressive income tax system that redistributes some of this income.
“A good candidate would wonder why seemingly equivalently talented people can get paid so much more in banking than in other occupations. Do we really believe bankers are so much better than other workers in terms of skill?
“An alternative story is that the banking industry is not competitive and generates profits above what a competitive market would produce. In this case, there is a role for government intervention to make the market more competitive. The key point is for candidates to think about the economics of pay rather than just whether they think it is fair or not.”
Prof Brian Bell, economics tutor, Lady Margaret Hall
Experimental Psychology: Imagine 100 people all put £1 into a pot. Each person has to choose a number between 0 and 100. The prize goes to the person whose number is closest to 2/3 of the average of all of the numbers chosen. What number will you choose and why?
“Some people’s first guess is 2/3 of 100, i.e. 66 or 67, in which case I’d ask them what numbers everyone else would have to pick for them to win. In this case, everyone else would have to choose 100, which is unlikely. More often people first guess 2/3 of 50 (= 33), which seems intuitively more likely.
“At this point, and usually without prompting, the recursive nature of the solution becomes clear: If there is good reason for me to choose 33, then maybe everyone else will choose 33 too, in which case I should choose 2/3 of 33… but then everyone will think this and choose 2/3 of 33 too, so I should choose 2/3 of that number… and so on.
“Assuming everyone thinks like this, then everyone will eventually settle on zero as their choice – this is the formal “game theory” solution. At this point, I’d ask questions that bring out the candidate’s broader reasoning skills in terms of thinking how we could define what it is rational to do in this game…
“The question also has a psychological angle in thinking about reasons for people’s behaviour and choices. Will everyone put in the same effort? Will everyone be motivated to win?
“We’re interested in seeing how people think through a problem, figure out what are the relevant factors and respond when new information is provided.”
Prof Nick Yeung, experimental psychology tutor, University College
Biomedical studies: Why is sugar in your urine a good indicator that you might have diabetes?
“This question builds on general knowledge and material studied at school in biology and chemistry to assess how students approach a clinically relevant problem. It’s commonly known that diabetes is associated with sugar (glucose) in the urine.
“This question asks students to think about why this occurs. Students have usually have learnt that the kidneys filter blood to remove waste products, such as urea, that must be eliminated from the body but many other useful substances which must not be lost, including glucose, are also filtered.
“Given that glucose is not normally found in the urine, students are asked to speculate as to how it can all be recovered as the urine passes through the kidney’s tubules.
The process involves reabsorption by a carrier protein that binds the glucose molecules and moves them out of the renal tubule and back into the blood.
“Students should appreciate that, in binding glucose, the carrier will share properties with enzymes, about which they will have learned at school: the capacity to reabsorb glucose is finite because once all of the carriers are working maximally, no further glucose reabsorption can occur.
“A successful applicant will make the connection that an elevated level of glucose in the blood in diabetes leads to increased filtration of glucose by the kidneys and saturation of the carriers that perform the reabsorption, resulting in ‘overspill’ of glucose in the urine.”
NEW DELHI: Outgoing DU VC Dinesh Singh on Friday defended the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme, saying its rollback was not his “personal loss” even as he maintained that, contrary to the popular notion, all the approvals were obtained and views taken before its introduction.
“There is this impression that one fine day we woke up and decided that this needs to be done. No institution is run like this, you follow certain procedures and norms and it takes enormous efforts.
“I am often blamed that there was no consultation and procedures were bypassed in the context of FYUP. We adopted an elaborate methodology, all VCs in the university’s history would not have together put in this much effort in consultation like we did,” the Delhi University VC told reporters here.
“4,000 professors, 4,000 students and parents, 700 teachers were called for consultations at various stages and written feedback was taken from them.
“A three-day academic Congress was organised in which 1,200 teachers and experts, including sportspersons, from across the county participated and, then, with dissent of six out of 26 members, the programme was passed in the varsity’s Academic Council (AC),” he added.
Singh has been at the loggerheads with the HRD ministry ever since the programme was rolled back last year in April after UGC’s intervention.
While the issue of why the norms were bypassed during the programme’s violation also found mention in the show-cause notice issued to Singh by the ministry — the first such instance in the varsity’s history, the VC has maintained that the required approvals were obtained.
“It (FYUP) rollback wasn’t my loss, it was the loss of society, institution and the country. Probably God did not want it, but the required approvals were there,” he said.
Singh’s tenure comes to an end on October 28 and he reiterated his desire of not continuing a day further in office.
NEW DELHI: The environment ministry will launch post-doctoral research fellowships in the name of former president late APJ Abdul Kalam to nurture young scientists working in the fields of environment and ecology.
“The main focus of the new fellowship programme and also the ongoing National Environmental Sciences Fellows Programme is to nurture young scientists working in environment and ecology for undertaking good quality scientific research under the mentorship of established scientists of the country,” an official statement said on Friday.
The programme, announced on the occasion of Kalam’s 85th birthday, is targeted at young scientists working in the area of environment and ecology in the country and those who have completed their PhD or are about to complete their PhD in areas related to environment and ecology.
The applicants are required to be preferably below 35 years and the tenure of the fellowship is for three years. The fellowship includes a monthly fellowship, equivalent to that of a research associate, together with an annual research contingency grant of Rs 1.5 lakh.
The post-doctoral fellowship will also be entitled to house rent allowance and other benefits as per the ministry’s guidelines applicable for research associateship.
The ministry will advertise about the fellowship to call for applications shortly and the guidelines for the programme will be uploaded on the ministry’s website.
It proposes to constitute a committee of experts headed by RA Mashelkar for selection of fellows.
The ministry said that Kalam, the people’s President, had an abiding trust and faith in the abilities of the youth of the country to transform India into a global power.
He was also firmly convinced that science and technology would offer solutions to the pressing challenges facing the country, including those of environmental protection and sustainable development, the statement added.
NEW DELHI: The format for the Common Admission Test (CAT) will see major changes this year. The test, which has been conducted on multiple days over two sessions since 2009, when it became computer-based, will now be conducted in as many sessions in a single day.
Introduction of non-multiple choice questions along with an on-screen calculator are the other changes made to this year’s CAT format.
The test duration would be longer with each section lasting 60 minutes. There will be three sections — Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension; Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Ability. Earlier, there was no sectional time limit and candidates could move between sections.
“With the introduction of sectional timings, CAT 2015 is now like three short tests. Each section will be given 60 minutes and once the time is over, a candidate cannot come back to that section,” said MBA Guru founder director Deekshant Sahrawat. “Therefore, candidates can no longer give more time to a section they are weak in. So they will have to increase their skills for all sections and qualify in each of them. In a way CAT 2015 has become a knowledge test than a management one.”